Perhaps the most effective way to
become a successful steelhead angler is to know a
river well, and have confidence in your tactics and
technique. Don’t waste your time randomly chasing
down rumors of hot fishing. Instead, learn where the
steelhead are by getting to know one or two rivers
well. This can involve visiting the river in the
summer and other seasons to observe holes, resting
places, riffles, and other habitat features that add
to your knowledge of where to fish effectively. It
is often said that 90 percent of the fish are caught
by 10 percent of the fishermen, and this is probably
truer with steelhead than any other fish. Many of
the world’s best steelhead anglers call Oregon home
and they tend to focus on four major elements:
When, Where, What and How.
The Steelhead Pro
is a Steelhead fishing gu9ide website where you can
find the best Steelhead fishing guides.
is a great place to find Steelhead fishing links and
information about Steelhead lures and bait.
Steelhead Fishing Guidesthe place to find
Oregon Steelhead fishing guides, Washington
Steelhead fishing guides and Steelhead fishing
guides in Idaho.
When are there steelhead in
Winter steelhead generally return to rivers from
November through May, depending on the river.
Steelhead anglers need to learn the run timing of
the rivers they fish, watch for concentrations of
other anglers, contact local hatcheries for return
information, read fishing articles, and check
several Websites for updated information on
steelhead returns. The
ODFW Recreation Report provides weekly updates
on fish returns and angling conditions on many
rivers and streams with winter steelhead
Also, successful winter steelhead
angling depends primarily on water temperature,
river levels or flow rates, and water clarity.
Anglers can go to
for current river flows and water temperatures.
Contact local ODFW offices for current water
conditions as well. Local sporting good stores are
also an excellent source of information on the
current local river conditions and steelhead angling
Where are the steelhead in
Steelhead are not evenly distributed throughout a
river and knowing where they tend to hold up or
congregate is key to fishing success. In general,
ODFW has reduced or eliminated “scatter planting” of
steelhead to avoid straying and possible spawning by
hatchery fish. This means that most of the better
fishing for hatchery fish will be at or below the
fish hatchery or a single release location.
Within the river, steelhead
typically prefer some type of holding water. While
this varies with water conditions, anglers should
generally focus their effort on runs or glides of
moderate depth and current. Many experienced
steelhead anglers concentrate on learning the rivers
Thanks to Lyle Andrews Guide
Service for the Steelhead photo above.
How are the steelhead caught?
There are many steelhead fishing techniques, from fishing a
bright pink worm under a bobber to swinging a small nymph on a
fly line. Whatever the technique there are three keys to
catching steelhead: putting the bait, lure or fly in front of as
many fish as possible; being able to detect the often subtle
strike of a steelhead and setting the hook; and being able to
fight and land a large aggressive fish. The best way to learn
these skills is to spend time on the water. The more you
practice your technique and learn how to focus on subtleties,
the more steelhead you will hook. Often it is the simple things
-- slack line, dull hooks, wind knots, and lack of concentration
– that cause an angler to miss a strike or lose a fish.
What do I use to catch steelhead?
If you’ve seen the variety of gear for sale in the local
sporting good stores, you may think that a steelhead will bite
almost anything. There are, however, some tried-and-true
techniques for catching steelhead.
Drift-fishing small, buoyant lures, with or
without bait, along the bottom.
Fishing with a float/bobber with a jig or
bait under it. (Popular baits include cured eggs, sand
shrimp, worms, crayfish tails and prawns.)
Casting spinners and spoons.
Fly-fishing, often with a sinking line and
large, mobile fly.
Backtrolling plugs or diver/bait
combinations from a boat.
With all these methods to choose from, the best
approach is to master one and fish what you know most of the
time. After you feel that you have mastered the basic technique,
start trying out new gear or methods. Remember, if you are
consistently pulling your line out of the water to change your
lure, it is not fishing and you are not catching anything!
Surplus hatchery steelhead returning to ODFW
hatcheries are often stocked into local lakes to provide
additional angling opportunities. Casting lures or flies from
the shore or a boat are the most common technique for catching
steelhead released in lakes. We hope you get the opportunity to
feel the fight of the steelhead on your line; it is definitely a
We hope you enjoy the experience of fishing some of the nation’s
most beautiful steelhead waters. Please help us keep them
beautiful. We ask that you be courteous and respectful to other
fishermen—there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy
themselves. When boat fishing, it is considered poor angler
ethics to cast into holes that bank anglers are fishing.
In order to preserve Oregon’s wild stocks of
steelhead, many of Oregon’s wild steelhead are catch-and-release
only. Please use the following techniques to help increase
survival of and minimize fishing impacts on wild fish.
Use barbless hooks. While barbless hooks are
not mandatory on most of Oregon’s fisheries, they can be
easier to remove from fish and anglers (this reducing stress
Land your fish quickly to help increase
Use needle nose pliers to remove deeply
imbedded hooks. If you can’t remove the hook without
harming the fish, cut the leader. The hook will rust out
after a few days in the water.
Keep your fish in at least six inches of
water while releasing it. Fish can be injured if allowed to
flop on shore. Grasp fish by the tail and place your other
hand under the belly, lifting slightly. If you plan to take
a photograph of the fish, make sure that you have framed the
picture and focused the camera before taking the fish out of
water, and then only hold the fish out of water (preferably
only partly out of water) for one or two seconds.
Revive the fish before release. Keep the
fish upright facing into the current. If current is slow,
move fish back and forth slowly to help oxygenate the
Go to the ODFW
website for more great information like this.